When Dane was in high school, he had the option of taking Spanish or a class in agriculture. Dane was a town kid so the decision was easy – he took Spanish. This decision is one for which I’ve been very thankful! Decades later, I’m still reaping the benefits of Dane learning Spanish.
For instance, Dane could take us around Taxco, Mexico, and ask good questions about the makers of the silver products we were swooning over. Because he was able to communicate with people pretty easily, we knew who we did not want to work with (those who had reliable market access already) and were able to sleuth out those with whom we are delighted to partner… like Marco!
This is Marco, his wife Adriana, and their three cuties: Kenya (14), Uriel (9) and Misrain (five months:).
Marco has been making beautiful things out of sterling silver since he was nine years old. Around that time, he stopped going to school and honed his silver skills with his father who learned from his father who learned from his father.
Sterling silver is the only game in Taxco. It is known as the “sterling silver capitol of the world” even by people other than themselves. They have loads of silver in this region and thanks to a few folks leading the way, they mine the resource and work with it beautifully.
Marco graciously took Dane and me to his home where he has his workshop. We followed him to his roof where he commented with heartfelt pride that his city is beautiful. We agreed. With a sweep of his arm, he told us that half of the homes before us were like his: dwellings and workshops. He was not exaggerating.
Many, many people are talented with silver in Taxco. We were lucky to find Marco through his sister-in-law who works at the hotel where we were guests. Marco’s sister Veronica owns a shop that sells Marco’s work as well as others like her Uncle Thomas. (I’ll write about Veronica and Thomas soon:)
The value of Mexico’s peso has dropped in value over the last three or so years. I need to read more about what all has happened to make this be a critical time, but it seems as though crude oil consumption and price, the health of China in trade, and the election of President Trump and his new administration’s rhetoric and direction have made the peso lose ground in relation to inflation. Whatever all the reasons, the current state of economic stability in Taxco is clear: resources are scarce.
Taxco relies on tourism and September is a rainy month. Many said it feels colder in September in this mountainous region than in December because of the daily rains. Our hunch is that violence, or the perception of violence, is impacting tourism in general also.
Silver, in Taxco at least, stays at a pretty consistent price. It doesn’t matter how much worth the peso loses, silver remains relatively steady. This is bad news for local silversmiths. When we visited Marco last week, he didn’t have any silver with which to work because sales were down. He hadn’t had any raw material for some time.
Sweet 14 year old Kenya goes to school from 7am – 1pm. She does well in school and would like to go to something equivalent to our high school next year, but it would be a boarding school in a town over an hour away. She aspires to be a doctor which will mean another step to the University after her three years in boarding school. Uriel seems to be a creative and fun kid who might be considering working with silver himself. The baby, well, the baby was just precious. I’d gladly hold this little sweet-pea any day!
We feel fortunate to find Marco. He is a talented and dedicated artisan. We are also glad to find him because we believe in education and hope that our purchases help his kids get to do what they aspire to do. May it be so! We’ll sure try our best!